2015 Halloween Playlist


Trip has informed me that October is his favorite month. “The leaves are changing [as much as they do in Texas], the weather is nice, and Halloween!” He absolutely loves seeing the Halloween decorations and drawing spooky scenes. He tells ghost stories (complete with creaky vocal frying). I tend to agree with Trip. Pumpkin spice everything, cooler temps, fall fun…

My Halloween playlist continues to grow. Here are more songs with Halloween-ish themes to add to a spooky playlist.


Halloween 2014

1. Dance of the Swamp Woman, Five Man Electrical Band
2. Witchcraft, Book of Love
3. Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps), David Bowie
4. Back From the Grave, Chromatics
5. Voodoo, Godsmack
6. Moonlight [A Vampire’s Dream], Stevie Nicks
7. Dracula Moon, Joan Osborne
8. Black Cat, Janet Jackson
9. Costume Makes the Clown, Shakira
10. Witchcraft, Sinatra
11. Dracula, Bea Miller
12. Ghost Town, Adam Lambert
13. Graves, Whiskey Shivers
14. Tombstone Blues, Bob Dylan
15. Cruella De Vil (from Disney’s 101 Dalmatians), Bill Lee

(Check out playlists from 2012, 2013, and 2014.)

Happy Halloween!

I’m guessing that in a month or so, I’ll start hearing why December is the greatest month!

Night Club Cardio Class Review


Dance workouts are a popular way to get in some cardio, and there are many styles to choose from. Dance party workouts are a popular choice. At Houston-area YMCAs, there is Night Club Cardio.

The description according to the YMCA class schedule:Houston YMCA

Night Club Cardio®: A cardio dance party that fuses exercise with dance moves in a nightclub setting. Dance moves are easy to follow and set to the hottest hits across multiple genres including: pop, hip-hop, free-style, disco, Latin, Bollywood, swing and many more.

Expect the lights to be dimmed during the class. Effect lights shine red, yellow, blue, and green lights. (Like a night club…)

The music is loud, and for the most part, it has included more recent pop hits (like Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” and some Pharrell). I have not really experienced a mix of genres like Bollywood and swing. The instructor demonstrates the moves, which are choreographed to the music. The moves are repeated multiple times, so the routines can be learned.

Intensity and instruction will vary based on instructor. With one instructor, I barely broke a sweat, and she didn’t show many modifications. A second instructor offered a more intense workout with modifications that added energy (like jumps). There are some toning moves, like squats and lunges, but the emphasis is on cardio.

There may or may not be verbal cueing during class. I prefer a class with verbal cues. It can be difficult to see the instructor in a crowded class. You don’t always see hand motions indicating direction or move changes.

The class is fun if you like to dance, appreciate choreography, and like a festive environment (thanks to the nightclub lighting). It’s a beginner to intermediate level workout. There is not necessarily a consistency from class to class if you get different instructors.

Space Center Houston


Space Center Houston celebrates and informs about space exploration, and it is one of the area’s must-see sites. Still, I keep talking to locals who have never been or who haven’t visited in over a decade. It’s time to visit again! I have been there numerous times in the past couple years, and there’s always something new that catches my attention.

Currently, you can see a shuttle craft carrier aircraft with a replica shuttle as soon as you pull into the museum’s parking lot. These will be featured in the museum’s Independence Plaza, which is under construction now and scheduled to open next year.

If that site doesn’t impress you, it’s a safe bet that at some point you’ll be awed by what you see at the Space Center Houston.

It might be when you get to touch a moon rock.


Or when you see the shuttlecraft Galileo from Star Trek.


It could be when you see real spacecraft like the Gemini V.

space center

I recently watched the TV version of The Astronaut Wives’ Club, so it was especially interesting to see information about the early days of the space program and pioneering American astronauts like Alan Shepherd and Gordo Cooper.

It’s really something to see the different space suits and other clothing worn by astronauts.



It was also awesome to see a Stellar Science Show with Rad Rhonda. Trip was even called up to stage to volunteer. So fun! (And educational!)


During my most recent trip, I did not take the tram tour. But, I know that’s pretty awesome too! It takes visitors to see the historic mission control, anastronaut training facility, and the Saturn V Complex.

See the Space Center Houston website for visitor information.


In the interest of full disclosure, my significant other works at the Space Center.

Cardio Strength Intervals (CSI) Class Review


Confession…I’ve been cheating on my at-home workouts with classes at the YMCA.

One of my favorites recently is Cardio Strenth Intervals (CSI). According toHouston YMCA the YMCA description, the class:

Incorporates intervals of cardio endurance and muscle conditioning to create a fitness training experience. Improve overall fitness, agility, speed, and athleticism in this hi-intensity class. All levels.

As the name suggests, CSI includes intervals of some form of cardio and toning moves. The style of the class varies by instructor. I’ve had two different instructors that have each done the class in a different way. With one, we did a series of four moves for thirty seconds to a minute with a short rest. That sequence was repeated four times before moving on to another sequence. The other instructor alternated cardio and strength moves but did not repeat moves in sequence.

The class is challenging and fast-paced, but instructors have shown modifications. One instructor started the move on a “Level 1” and then showed more intense options.

Examples of the cardio moves have included grapevines, high knees, jumping rope, kickboxing punches and kicks, mountain climbers, and moves on the step (varying from bunny hops over the step to simple step-taps).

Strength moves have included plenty of squats and lunges, bicep curls, tricep dips, and of course push ups.

The classes I have attended have ended the session with core moves on the floor (curls, Russian twists, planks, etc.). The sessions always end with a stretch.

Instructors have incorporated hand weights, resistance tubes, steps, and jump ropes during the workouts.

CSI is somewhat reminiscent of a Jillian Michaels workout, like 30 Day Shred*, but there are more cardio intervals and the classes are longer (50-60 minutes).

I like the class because I get a total-body workout and challenge myself with cardio bursts. I’m also a sweaty mess at the end.

No matter what the class, it is helpful to know that you can always modify moves to add or reduce intensity, even if the instructor doesn’t implicitly say so.

* Indicates an associate link.

Favorite *FREE* Online At-Home Workouts


Check out YouTube for some quality at-home fitness options! Here are a few of my favorite channels:

1.  Jessica Smith TV

Jessica Smith offers a variety of workouts–kickboxing, toning, pilates, dance, walking, HIIT, barre, and mashups of any of the above. There are workouts of varying lengths available. Love her stuff!

2. Fitness Blender

A husband and wife team lead a variety of workouts–pilates, stretching, toning, kickboxing, HIIT, and more. There is usually voice over narration to guide viewers through the workout, but there is rarely any extra talk beyond instructions, form tips, and such. There is no music in the videos, so I like to play my own playlist along with the workouts. Plenty of intensity options and lots of variety to keep things interesting!

3. BeFit

BeFit offers clips and full length workouts from familiar trainers like Denise Austin and Jillian Michaels (from previously released DVDs). There are also new workouts posted.

4. Tara Stiles Yoga

Tara Stiles posts yoga sequences of varying lengths. Sometimes it’s nice to fit in yoga even for just five minutes at a time.

5. POPSUGAR Fitness

This is a good place to try out some fitness trends and see some popular fitness trainers in action.

6. Cosmic Kids Yoga

Adorable yoga practices. Trip has fun listening to a story and following along with yoga postures. Yoga code work is namaste!

These channels also have playlists and/or challenges, so you can find something to match your goals, ability level, or other requirements.

YouTube videos can be watched on a smart phone, tablet, or computer. Better yet, though, you can use a streaming device (like Roku, AppleTV, etc.) to watch on your TV.

Leslie Sansone: Tone Every Zone Walk Review


Leslie Sansone has a great new at-home walking working available. I received a complimentary copy of Tone Every Zone for review purposes.   Also, associate links are marked (*).

Leslie Sansone’s The Tone Every Zone Walkis a great new release for at-home fitness enthusiasts. This is my favorite Leslie Sansone DVD in awhile! The workout includes three 20-Leslie Sansoneminute segments that combine toning and walking aerobics.

The first, “Walk & Upper Body,” is a 20-minute circuit that alternates strength training for the upper body with cardio walking. This was my favorite segment of the DVD. The strength moves are classic like curls, rows, chest flies, skull crushers, and arm raises. If you use a challenging weight, there are enough reps that the muscle can fatigue. Hand weights are required. Having different sizes will help keep every muscle challenged and allow for progression. A mat and lifting gloves are optional equipment. The cardio walk is not too challenging. It is low impact with familiar moves like marching, kicks, and knee raises. There is a warm up but no stretching at the end.

The second circuit is “Walk and Lower Body.” This 20 minute segment focuses on the legs. Once again, cardio portions are not too difficult. The strength sections are traditional moves like squats, static lunges, and plies. There are pulses at the end of a set for extra challenge. Weights are suggested. Once again, there is a warm up but no stretching at the end.

The final segment is a 20-minute “Fast Walk.” This is a faster cardio walk. It is low impact and probably done at a beginner to advanced beginner level. There are the traditional moves seen in most of Sansone’s videos–marches, kicks, knee raises, leg curls. Sansone also varies the workout with moves like a shuffle with an added arm punch. There is a warm up. The cool down includes Sansone walking around and talking to each of the individuals walking with her. (She’s gushing about everyone. She loves the company she keeps!) There is no stretch.

As usual, Sansone is chatty and so friendly. I like her emphasis on good health (and not looking a certain way). The set is colorful and bright, and the music is fast and upbeat.

This release would have been improved with a core segment.

Otherwise, this is a great release! It is perfect for beginners looking for a well-rounded at-home workout. More experienced individuals will appreciate the back-to-basics toning.